Kenny Mayne Predicted 'The Last Dance' 22 Years Ago in Fun Ad From State Farm

Deepfake spot befuddles ESPN viewers

It was a deepfake head-fake.

Lots of advertisers have been using archival footage in their ads since the onset of coronavirus, which has severely hampered live shoots. But State Farm went way back—all the way to 1998—for a fun spot during Sunday's ESPN premiere of The Last Dance documentary about the '97-'98 Chicago Bulls.

The spot opened with real footage of ESPN anchor Kenny Mayne reporting on the Bulls' threepeat that year—when suddenly, things took a turn for the surreal.

State Farm x The Last Dance

Using a version of deepfake technology, ESPN CreativeWorks and agency Translation altered the Mayne footage to have him predict the Last Dance documentary 22 years in the future—a fun stunt that had ESPN viewers buzzing in social media.

The spot actually rolled out last week on the NBA's Twitter account, and has also been running as a 6-second spot on Snapchat.

ESPN allowed only a few top-level sponsors into its Last Dance broadcast, which is easily the most buzzed-about sports content since the Covid-19 pandemic upended life across the globe—and canceled practically all live sporting events worldwide. Along with State Farm, Facebook and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are also sponsors.

"We're proud to have this amazing collection of sponsors for this special, and even more proud of the innovative and custom content our teams developed," said, Sean Hanrahan, svp of sports brand solutions at Disney Advertising Sales. "The appetite for quality sports programming is evident and we'll continue to bring brands closer to the connections a franchise like The Last Dance will deliver."

State Farm is also the presenting sponsor of Jalen & Jacoby: The After Show, a live digital exclusive show with ESPN's Jalen Rose and David Jacoby streaming across various social media channels, including Facebook and the ESPN app.

As part of Facebook’s sponsorship, ESPN is delivering exclusive Facebook and Instagram programming to interact with fans. The package includes pre- and post-show Facebook Live broadcasts hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth and Sarah Spain on the ESPN page and an exclusive Instagram Live pre-show via the SportsCenter account.

Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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